Joe Bonamassa, Manchester Arena

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A Guitar masterclass of the highest calibre…..

Billed as the Guitar event of the year, Joe Bonammassa, brings his 2018 WORLD TOUR TO THE Manchester Arena. JB has been coming to Manchester for the last 20 years, once again his loyal and supportive fans have once again turned up in their masses.

As the fans make their way into the arena, having gone through the rigorous security measures now in place after last years horrific events, it is a tribute to the public but more importantly the arena staff that the process is done quickly and efficiently, a credit to all involved.

Counted amongst one of the very best guitarists in the world today, many people would try and Pidgeon hole him into Blues, that is probably a mis-justice to the array of genres he covers, there is no doubt Blues is the bedrock of his music, Blues, Funk, Rock, Bluegrass, Jazz, Folk, will all be on display this evening.

Taking to the stage behind his assembled band, wearing his trademark Blue suit and obligatory sunglasses. Immediately as the lights are thrown up, the gloves are of and we are treated to four new songs, from his forthcoming album. First up was “King Bee Shakedown”, “Evil Mamma” along with “Just cause you can”, followed by “Self-inflicted wounds”.to some this could be a risk, or is it a clever marketing ploy in giving the fans a taste of what is to come from his latest work, these appreciative fans have received the tracks warmly.

In this opening gambit there is little interaction with the audience, the music does that for him, shades of rock fill the arena and the crowd are warming to the presentation. With a back catalogue so extensive, there is no doubting we could going any direction. “ I get evil”, brings out the razzmatazz, a chance for the band to come to the fore “no good place for the lonely “and “How deep this river runs”, keep the pace upbeat, “ Breaking up someone’s home”, brings the funk to town, powerful yet intimate, as the band build the track into layers, each getting more and more intricate.

JB takes the time to introduce the best God damn band in the world, a band that are as relevant and as powerful as JB, first up on Trumpet Lee Thornburg, former trumpet player with Supertramp. Next is Paulie Cerra Saxophone who has worked with the likes of Stevie Wonder, between them they give a real Memphis sound, next up was Anton Fig Drums, it would probably be easier to recall who he hasn’t worked with, B.B. King, Bob Dillan and Mick Jagger are some of the people he has shared the stage with, next we had the awesome Michael Rhodes Bass who counts the likes of Mark Knoffler, Johnny Cash and Elton John amongst his many album and live workings. Last but not least Reece Wynans Keyboards, worked with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy and John Mayall. To class these guys as the engine room doesn’t pay homage to how superb these guys are, Bonamassa is an energy a fluid power source bursting out of the stage, what the band do is like a formula one racing car, the band harness all that power and keep him on the road, carefully navigating his every move, not an easy task with a player of Bonamassa,s skill.

The band let loose with “Slow train”, so much power coming from all quarters, with some wonderful vocals from Jade McCrae and Juanita Pippins who have been providing backing vocals. “ Driving toward the daylight” and Boogie with Stu”, has the audience buzzing, although the venue is seated the atmosphere is great, the crowd have come to watch, appreciate a master at work. The range and quality of guitar work is exceptional, classic rock licks crossing over to improvised and soul drenching blues cannot be faulted, a master piece of showmanship, throughout the set.

“Last Kiss” and “ How many times”, have the fans on their feet, and brings to an end a fantastic evening, as the band leave the stage to calls for more, the band return, to one final encore of “Hummingbird”, the crowd show there appreciation after what has been an epic 2 hours 15 minute set that had it all.
It is not difficult to understand why so many world-renowned artist clamber to work with Bonnamassa. A real and honest performer crafted, and grounded, an artist that will in time be classed as a true legend.

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